Macbeth

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Macbeth

At the beginning of the play Macbeth is the "bravest" soldier and the honorable Thane of Glamis. His rank and nobility are of great value, and he seems to be fit for his status. But his encounter with the witches awakens in him a deep impatient ambition. Immediately after the first prophecy of being Thane of Cawdor becomes true the "horrid image" of the murder of King Duncan in order to become king himself crosses his mind. He is not totally cold and solely ambitious as shown by his terror of the murder image, which thoroughly defies his loyalty. There is love in Macbeth as shown by his letter to Lady Macbeth in which he calls her his "dearest partner of greatness." Macbeth is already thinking about being king but he is undecided about whether it is better to succumb to the temptation presented by the witches or to wait for Fate to crown him. Banquo warns him that at times evil forces "tell us truths . . . to betray's in deepest consequence."

Even though he does not state it out loud, Macbeth does care about morality and religion, as demonstrated in his soliloquy (I, IV, 12-28) where he lists the three reasons why he should not kill Duncan: he is "his kinsman," "his subject" and "his host." Macbeth adds that "Duncan hath born his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels." Lady Macbeth knows her husband and feels that he is "too full o' th' milk of human kindness." To counter this she accuses Macbeth of being a coward if he does not kill Duncan. Macbeth does not want to be a coward, either as soldier or as husband, so he accepts to murder Duncan. His ambition and self-image of bravery win over his virtues. Nevertheless he is remorseful after murdering Duncan, and he masks his fear of being found with rage against the supposed murderers and thus kills the drunk guards.

Already being king Macbeth is troubled by remorse and cannot sleep easily. Also, Macbeth is fearful of Banquo because he knows what the witches prophesied and may suspect Macbeth. Another thing that bothers him is that he has the demeanor of a king and that the witches promised Banquo a lineage of kings while they only promised him to be king. He refuses to accept that he turned evil just for Banquo's lineage to be kings and so decides to challenge Fate by killing Banquo and his descendants.

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